Case Studies

Mount Stewart, County Down, Northern Ireland, 54.55°N 5.60°W

The National Trust Mount Stewart site was chosen as a good example to demonstrate, with an evidence-based pilot study, the connection between the future changes that are likely to affect the overall resilience of the community, the heritage assets, to be able to see the distribution of impacts these changes might have.

Digital Twin

At the outset of the pilot study there were already some known climate change risks which have been confirmed by the data. During the course of the study other aspects have come to light which have a substantial effect on the overall performance of Mount Stewart in terms of resilience to climate change.

In the worst-scoring scenario, with the compounded effect of RCP 8.5 and wave over-topping resilience is much lower across the site, but crucially some zones, including the main building, appear to be at severe risk.

A further unexpected result of the data analysis was the very significant energy consumption of the site, especially when compared with other cultural heritage institiutions – which would need to be explored in more detail to verify specific reasons.

It should be noted that this study is not a full-blown Kassandra service and the data available has been limited and for certain parameters has been entirely lacking, therefore only derived or general data has been included for these, which affects the compounded result to some extent. Ideally, even with this limited study it would have been desirable to have information for all aspects considered by Kassandra.

Ironbridge, Telford & Wrekin, England, 52°37′N 2°29′W

Kassandra, working with the University of Portsmouth, has recently completed a study in Climate change has become one of the most significant threats to historic sites and World Heritage properties, including their integrity, authenticity, and their potential for economicand social development at the local level.

The Ironbridge Gorge WHS site was chosen as a good example to demonstrate, with an evidence-based pilot study, the connection between the future changes that are likely to affect the overall resilience of the community, the heritage assets, to be able to see the distribution of impacts these changes might have.

The aim of the Pilot Study is not to provide definitive answers, but to showcase an application of the Kassandra IDSS (Integrated Decision Support System) methodology in developing a climate change resilience model and associated decision support tools for historic places, cities and landscapes. Indeed, being a Pilot Study, there have been limitations in scope, available data and the extent of the analysis carried out, which are illustrated in detail in the following paragraphs.

Various scenarios have been simulated during the course of this study starting with a baseline scenarios that simulates the changes brought about by RCP8.5, which is often referred to as “business as usual”, a likely outcome if society does not make concerted efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

All scenarios look at a timeframe largely up to 2080 and have been selected as plausible future events based on current understanding of climate projection and analysed trends from the collected data. Their aim is not to give certainties but indications of where the lowest resilience levels reside today and are likely to reside in the future and focus intervention on certain aspects or key locations and what the effect of these interventions might be on the Resilience Index.

Current Condition

The starting point was to analyse with Kassandra the possible flooding scenarios for the future, which were already a known risk. In applying the analysis across a multitude of factors and across the wider landscape what became apparent was the potential compounded effect of different scenarios on the overall resilience of the site.

Under the worst-case scenario there seems to be a particular low resilience to the effect of extreme weather events further and consequential risk of localised flooding and landslides which could put at risk most significant heritage assets starting from the bridge and consequentially the Outstanding Universal Value of the site.

Some of the issues that affect the resilience of the Ironbridge Gorge WHS are not derived from factors within the Gorge itself. In particular the issue around flood management is unlikely to be able to be solved within the site apart from local interventions and it might be useful to consider a geographical expansion of the Digital Twin to encompass a wider area of the River Severn and provide a basis for additional scenarios and simulations.

Coulibistrie, Dominica, 15°27′ N 61°27′ W

Kassandra, working with the University of Portsmouth, has recently completed a study in the Caribbean to define a series of key guidelines for the improvement of resilience of coastal communities to extreme climatic events caused by Climate Change.

The project focuses on two island nations of the Caribbean – Dominica and Grenada – different for geographical location and morphology, but both subject to great risk from severe weather events and other natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

The guidelines bring together two different perspectives within Kassandra: a deterministic data-based analysis and a situated ecology assessment that includes human perspective. This method has allowed for the development of a more in-depth, comprehensive, and holistic understanding of the capacity of a system to be resilient and adaptable.

The study saw the application of Kassandra on fifteen sites in the two islands analysing the current resilience of buildings, infrastructure, environment, air, and heritage.

The recommendations, developed by Kassandra via iterative scenarios, include considerations about the five key factors that resulted to be the most influential ones in mitigating the risks and improving the overall resilience index:

  • The geographical and topographical location of settlements
  • The form of individual buildings
  • The configuration and arrangement of clusters of buildings
  • Construction techniques and materials
  • The capacity of inhabitants to be self-sufficient for longer periods of time

In addition to applying Kassandra to the sites on both islands, a prototype building design was developed that takes into account the results of the Kassandra study and proposes an ideal resilient building capable of withstanding and adapting to most natural disasters.

Coulibistrie – Optimal Scenario

Mark Cannata, CEO of Kassandra says “The project is proof that Kassandra’s methodology and approach can provide decision-makers with significant data to allow for the improvement of quality of life in very diverse contexts.”

“On the basis of the conclusions from Kassandra” Mark Cannata continues “it has also been possible to outline the characteristics of a building that would achieve high degrees of resilience.  Clearly this is an abstract solution, but, nevertheless, many of the construction and design aspects identified could be retrofitted to existing buildings, increasing their resilience to extreme events brought about by climate change.”

Modica, Italy, 36°51′ N 14°45′ E

Modica has a medium sized historic centre set in a deep valley in South East Sicily at 36N degrees latitude, which cuts across the largest portion of the Mediterranean. Its relatively small size allows for a good number of data types to be analysed without the great volume that a large city would generate.

  • Its population, 55.000 inhabitants, and relative compact size and topographical and historic conformation make it representative for most small and medium sized towns in the areas of the Mediterranean that are likely to suffer first and more severely from climate change.
  • It has a complex topography, with deep valleys, plateaus and hills which allows for different scenarios that can be applied to other towns throughout the region and beyond.
  • It is a Unesco World Heritage site, a benchmark for the quality of the historic urban environment. The historic layering of the town allows us to look back at successful pre-industrial vernacular solutions, as well as the effect of later urban and architectural interventions.